Pilot Corner

What Is The Coffin Corner In Aviation?

Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

To prevent such a scenario pilots must keep an eye on the aircrafts speed angle of attack and altitude.

  • The area of a flight envelope where an aircrafts critical Mach number and stall speed are within a few knots of one another is known as Coffin Corner in aerodynamics.
  • Stated otherwise the area or velocity at which an increase in speed results in flow separation over the wings and a loss of lift while a decrease in velocity causes the aircraft to stall and lose altitude. The aeroplane will crash out of the sky in both scenarios with little to no control.
  • The word Corner refers to the triangle form at the top of the velocity-height diagram that displays the aircrafts flying envelope whereas Coffin alludes to the possibility of death resulting from an aircraft losing control. To prevent such circumstances pilots must avoid certain areas and always pay attention to their speed and attitude. This page delves further into the idea including examples and source illustrations.

Photo by Forsaken Films on Unsplash

What is the coffin corner?

The coffin corner refers to the intersection of a given aircrafts stall speed and critical Mach number Critical Mach number may not be as well-known as stall speed which is a sufficiently self-explanatory word. According to Skybrary its the lowest Mach number at which airflow over any portion of the aircraft achieves sound speed.

The speed at which these two variables cross is determined by the height of an aeroplane at a particular moment. The aircraft will get closer to them as it rises to this critical height. According to Bold Method this is really known as the Q corner. The formal recognition of Q as an acronym for dynamic pressure explains this.

However because of the triangle in a flight envelope chart where the crucial Mach number and stall speed are near to each other the occurrence has also been dubbed coffin corner. More morbidly it also alludes to the possibility of death that may follow.

What is possible?

When an aircraft is in the coffin corner it can be more difficult to maintain stable flight. This is because reducing speed can cause the plane to stall whereas increasing speed can reduce its lift. Even the slightest of movements can prove dangerous as Skybrary explains:

In the most critical case simply turning the aircraft could result in exceeding both limits simultaneously. In a turn the inside wing slows down whereas the outside wing increases speed. Likewise encountering turbulence could result in a beyond limits change in airspeed.

In any event the aircraft may descend from its current height due to a stall or a lack of lift. An aero plane under such circumstances may be in grave danger as the g-forces from the descent might lead to structural failures and the aircrafts disintegration.

Key Factors of the Coffin Corner

Factor Importance
Altitude Crucial
Temperature Significant
Aircraft Weight Considerable
Aerodynamic Design Vital

Strategies for Survival

Navigating the Coffin Corner demands skill and precision. Captain Smith recommends:

  1. Training and Awareness: Pilots must be educated on this phenomenon. Awareness is the first step to safety.
  2. Altitude Adjustments: Being mindful of altitude is critical. Descending to lower altitudes can provide a safety buffer.
  3. Temperature Monitoring: Paying close attention to temperature can help mitigate risks. Colder temperatures allow for a higher Mach number.
  4. Aircraft Weight Management: Controlling weight impacts stall speeds, so careful management is key.


The Coffin Corner presents an occasionally risky situation in the realm of aviation Nonetheless pilots can safely navigate through this region if they have the expertise competence and attentiveness Captain Amelia Smith I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge on this aspect of aviation May your flights be free from any challenges The skies remain unpolluted

About author


Ameer is an aviation expert with over two decades of experience in the industry. With a passion for aviation that has taken him from the cockpit to the boardroom, Ameer has an extensive background in aviation management, safety, and operations. He has been at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to enhance aviation safety standards and streamline airline operations
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